On Tuesday morning, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared on NBC’s Today show, where she was asked about the odds that the Trump administration will simply ignore a federal report—pages of which were leaked on Monday to the New York Times—affirming the role of humans in global warming.
“Just because we pulled out of the Paris Accord doesn’t mean we don’t believe in climate protection,” Haley insisted, despite the fact that that is nonsense.
“We’re not saying that climate change is not real,” Haley continued. “It is real. How do you have that balance between making sure you have jobs and businesses moving and how you protect the climate? The answer is in the middle.”
Spoken in any other context, Haley’s answer, however unsatisfying, would have largely been a non-issue—the sort of generic “both sides”-ism that’s commonplace among politicians whose love of having cake is topped only by their love of eating it, too. But because it’s Trump we’re talking about, her words are especially hollow.
After all, Trump hasn’t so much attempted to “strike a balance” as he has: Questioned whether climate change is a Chinese invention; given the green light to multiple environmentally harmful corporate initiatives; leapfrogged over environmental protections in order to construct his much-promised border wall; and embraced the coal industry with a passion that borders on the erotic.
Taken in this context, Haley’s centrist shtick is a particularly crass example of administration officials who are forced at every move to explain how the things the president has repeatedly said and done aren’t actually the things he means.